Make room – one Springfield Gardens school could be the home for hundreds of more students come next fall.
Intermediate School 59, located at 132-55 Ridgedale Street, is currently under capacity, utilizing about 60 percent of the building, according to enrollment statistics compiled by the Department of Education (DOE).
This year, the school will begin to house P.S. 176’s fourth and fifth grades for three years while its original site receives an addition. For the fall 2014, the Success Academy Charter School (SACS) has applied to gradually open up a kindergarten through eighth grade at I.S. 59 .
“I believe right now there’s room in the building based on their utilization, but when it gets to full capacity it’s questionable, and I think that’s the concern the community has right now,” said Dmytro Fedkowski, Queens representative on the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP).
If SACS’ proposal is approved, 150 to 210 kindergarten and first grade students will join the Ridgedale Street school. One grade will then be added each year until it reaches the eighth grade in the 2021 to 2022 school year. By then, the building will be at 88 to 101 percent capacity.
The PEP will vote to approve or reject the co-location at an October 30 meeting.
Historically, Fedkowski said, charter schools have been pegged as receiving better resources than public schools.
However, SACS said its principals prioritize the budget in a way that, for example, allows for fewer, but more effective, teachers and, in turn, better resources.
However, the community remains unconvinced.
“Things have a tendency to change when a charter comes in,” Fedkowski said. “They have this, they have that, and it creates that animosity and puts parents against parents. How do you fix that? I don’t know.”
Charter schools additionally do not get funding for a facility and seek to locate in under-utilized buildings, such as I.S. 59.
The well-reputed SACS operates 18 schools citywide. Four elementary schools were graded by the DOE for the 2011 to 2012 school year and all received an A.
“Success Academy is hopeful we can meet some of the overwhelming demand from local families for more high-quality public schools in their neighborhood,” said Kerri Lyon, SACS spokesperson.
Following the PEP vote, there is a 45-day period of public comment. The panel is made up of 13 members, eight appointed by the mayor and one chosen by each borough president.
I.S. 59 administration could not immediately be reached for comment.